|2 Former Bishops of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Thomas Dupre and Joseph Maguire, Sued by Williamstown Man over Alleged Molestation
By Fred Contrada
September 17, 2009
NORTHAMPTON - In what his lawyer called a unique case, a Williamstown man announced Thursday that he is suing two former bishops of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and another church administrator for allowing him to be molested by a priest who had admitted to sexually abusing other boys.
Andrew F. Nicastro, 38, said the former Rev. Alfred Graves sexually molested him between 1982 and 1984 at St. Patrick's Parish in Williamstown, when Nicastro was 11 to 13 years old. Graves, who has been named as an abuser in other suits filed against the diocese, was barred from presenting himself as a priest in the 1990s and officially defrocked by the Vatican in 2006.
The suit names as defendants the Most Rev. Joseph F. Maguire, who was bishop of the Springfield diocese at the time of the allegations, the Most Rev. Thomas L. Dupre, who was chancellor and third in command, and Richard S. Sniezyk, who was vicar for priests and had a supervisory role over Graves.
Dupre succeeded Bishop John Marshall who had succeeded Maguire. Dupre resigned after he was indicted in 2004 on charges of abusing two boys during the 1970s. The cases were dropped when the Hampden County District Attorney's office determined they were too old to prosecute. Dupre is currently at a Maryland treatment center for troubled priests.
Greenfield lawyer John J. Stobierski, who represents Nicastro, said the new suit is different from any other priest abuse complaint filed in the U.S. because it involves a defendant, Dupre, who is an accused molester charged with overseeing another accused molester.
Mark E. Dupont, a spokesman for the diocese, pointed out that the Diocese of Springfield is not named as a defendant and said it would be imprudent to comment on the specifics of the case prior to a thorough review.
According to the suit, the parents of a young boy told Maguire in 1976 that their son had been sexually molested by Graves while he was a curate at Our Lady of Hope Church in Springfield. Although Graves admitted to Maguire that he had molested the boy, the bishop merely warned him "to not do it again," the suit states. Graves was subsequently transferred to serve as chaplain at a hospital in the Turners Falls section of Montague and then transferred again to St. Patrick's in 1981, where he served as the pastor and sole priest.
Stobierski said his investigation has uncovered writings that show Maguire knew about Graves' history of molesting boys.
"For the first time, we have solid proof that the hierarchy of the diocese knew Alfred Graves molested children before he was assigned to a parish where Mr. Nicastro and others were located," he said.
Nicastro said he began coming to grips with his abuse in recent years when a Jesuit priest who was visiting his parish drew him out on the subject. Although he said he was given an apology and an offer of help by the church, the diocese balked when Nicastro asked it to pay for his therapy.
"The church said that was not their mode of operation," he said.
At a press conference on the steps of the Hampshire County Courthouse, where the suit was filed, Nicastro said he feels betrayed by the church, both as a child and as an adult.
"All this could have been avoided if somebody had done anything," he said. "Anything at all."
Nicastro, who owns the restaurant Isabella's in North Adams, was accompanied by his wife, daughter and parents.
After a barrage of lawsuits earlier this decade, the suit is one of the few civil complaints filed against the diocese in the last four years. The diocese paid out $7.7 million to dozens of claimants in 2004 and another $4.5 million to 59 alleged abuse victims last year. Those costs were offset by an $8.5 million settlement between the diocese and three insurance companies.
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